ELITE WRESTLERS THINK DIFFERENTLY IN COMPETITIONS TO LESSER PERFORMERS
Eklund, R. C. (1994). A season-long investigation of competitive cognition in collegiate wrestlers. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 65, 169-183.
This investigation improved upon the findings and limitations of an article authored by Gould, Eklund, and Jackson (1992). Qualitative data were collected from six NCAA Division I wrestlers using in-depth retrospective interviews about 38 matches in the current season. Additional information about all-time best and worst performances was gathered. Ss' performance levels were divided into high, moderate, and low quality.
Different and identifiable patterns of cognition associated with different levels of performance were revealed. However, when these collegiate wrestlers were compared with world-class performers some differences were noted. World-class performers have more extensive competitive plans, such plans being absent in a number of collegians. Collegians often thought of the coach during a performance but world-class performers did not. High-level collegians thought positively of the coach whereas moderate and low-level collegians frequently thought negatively about the coach. The intrusion of the coach into wrestlers' thoughts is proposed by the authors as being an artifact of NCAA wrestling, and is something that is absent at international levels of the sport. Generally, the best performance analysis produced factors that were consistent with previous investigations into the thought structures and characteristics associated with high-performance wrestling.
Implication High-level wrestling performances and performers are distinguished from lesser levels by the structure of competition thinking. Diminished structure, negative attributions, intrusive thoughts about the coach, and minimal competitive plans are associated with low and poor wrestling performances.
[Gould, D., Eklund, R. C., & Jackson, S. A. (1992). 1988 US Olympic wrestling excellence: II Thoughts and affect occurring during competition. The Sport Psychologist, 6, 383-402.]
Return to Table of Contents for this issue.